Red Post Collection: QGT 1/29 - State of the Game, 1/25 TFT Mid-Patch Update, Ask Riot: Lessons from Dev, & More

Posted on at 1:36 PM by Aznbeat
Today's red post collection includes Riot Scruffy's quick gameplay thoughts for January 29 on the state of the game, a TFT mid-patch update, a new Ask Riot, including details on the Aatrox VGU, why most skins are part of thematics, and an update on the VGU vote, and more!
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Table of Contents


Quick Gameplay Thoughts: January 29

Here's Riot Scruffy's quick gameplay thoughts for January 29 - "State of the Game": 

"State of the game 
At a high level we wanted Preseason 2021 and our work throughout 2020 to be about strengthening and improving the foundations of League for the next 10 years. I wanted to take a quick overview of the state of the game: What we’re feeling good about, and what we want to improve. 
The Item System Update 
We updated the item system to increase strategic choice, satisfaction, and accessibility. We’re generally seeing those goals met when we look at the game widely, but we're still focusing on follow up work to realize the full potential. 
Most champions and classes are seeing a wider set of item choices that suit different games, but there are some cases where choices are either not there, or not clear and satisfying enough to feel there. We’re seeing roughly 20% of champs crossing our “Mythic hardbinding” threshold (same Mythic in >75% of games). 
We’re going to continue addressing these gaps to get as close to 100% of champions with meaningful build diversity. That said, build diversity is one value among a long list of gameplay goals, so we wouldn't sacrifice too much of other important things like satisfaction, counterplay, or champion uniqueness to achieve it. This means addressing hardbinding will take longer than standard balance concerns since the work required is more disruptive and risky, but getting as close to 0% Mythic hardbinding as possible is one of our ongoing focuses. 
In the last few patches we’ve assessed the state of item choices and power level across many classes to tune the greatest outliers. 11.1 saw buffs to underused items like Shurelya’s and Ionian Boots; in 11.2 we adjusted the tank Mythics to help Frostfire Gauntlet and Turbo Chemtank compete with Sunfire Cape; in 11.3 we’re targeting fighter class outliers like Goredrinker and Sterak’s Gage, and shifting systemic healing toward more conventional durability. 
Balancing and reworking the new groundwork we laid in preseason will eventually taper off into normal patch work on items. Our hope is that, by the end of spring, every champ has a range of satisfying (even if not totally perfect) choices. As things settle, we’re looking at a few opportunities to add new items to flesh out a few classes. 
The Item Shop 
The item shop overhaul has hit our goal of creating a tailored experience for each type of player from new to master level experience. The upgraded recommendation system using high level player data in particular has been performing quite well: Lots of players use the Recommended tab as their default and it’s been exposing players to more viable choices and teaching them the basics of when each option is worth considering. 
I would still estimate that our new shop is only 90% of the way to completely finished though. As we continue to play with it, small but critical usability improvements become clear. Now that we're using modern tech, we hope to continue adding more and more functionality over time to make the shop usability feel like second nature.
Position BalanceWith so many item changes this preseason we were anticipating some needed followup on position balance. (We look at both pick rate as well as a position's ability to influence the outcome of a game to assess its power and health.) Bot and Support landed weaker than before the update, but we focused on followup for both during the preseason window and they've recovered to appropriately powerful spots. 
One thing on our radar for the future is the Jungle position. It’s one of the most influential/powerful positions, but also low popularity, meaning there's a satisfaction or accessibility problem keeping it from being appealing despite how powerful it is. We've made light-touch changes on this front a few times in recent years, like adding jungling tools to champion kits, putting camp timers on the minimap, and increasing viable path options so more champs can make it through the first few clears. Those light touches expectedly weren't comprehensive solutions, so Jungle continues to be something we're thinking about. 
Worth noting: We’ve seen positive reception to the new Jungle item experience of buying a jungle starter and getting to your build right away. This not only streamlined jungling for new entrants to the role, but also freed up build paths for veterans. We're confident there are still more ways like this for us to improve the appeal of the role without undermining the core skill and flexibility that current junglers love. 
Burst Damage 
At preseason launch, many players felt an increase in burst damage (mostly coming from big item actives or passive procs), past the point of where we think the healthiest and richest version of LoL gameplay should be. When damage gets too high, counterplay and in-combat decisionmaking suffers, so we began looking into the issue once preseason data stabilized enough for us to be sure it wasn't just noise right after a big update. 
In the last few patches, we've pulled burst from multiple sources and are back to a reasonable state, though still probably the higher end of acceptable. We're continuing to evaluate whether more changes should be made. Generally, we try to stay in the range where burst reliant classes (mages, assassins) can kill an out-of-position carry, but not so bursty where they can do so without hitting a full combo or when missing important skills. We also use mathematical analysis with historical comparisons (how much damage is a Talon combo in S11 vs S10 vs S6 etc). Another method is test cases like LeBlanc's time-to-kill vs a Vayne at typical builds. This accounts for shifts in target defenses as well, which can be missed when just looking at a damage dealer's theoretical numbers. 
Snowball

Something we always watch closely is snowball, which tells us whether the game flows in a way where player decisions are impactful at all stages. One of our preseason goals was to avoid power creeping the item system, and increased snowball would be one of the worse symptoms of messing up because finishing items earlier than your opponent would give you an even bigger advantage. Snowball currently looks similar to the last few seasons, which is good. 
Data aside, we know playing from behind in League can be very frustrating even if you still have a realistic chance of making a comeback. Being at a disadvantage will probably never feel good, but ideally comeback opportunities are present and viable enough to keep games fun and exciting to the end. 
New Champs and VGUs 
2020's champions were successful on both the satisfaction and appeal fronts. The themes and gameplay of Sett, Fiddle, Voli, Lillia, Yone, Samira, Seraphine, and Rell aimed for broad appeal among players within their applicable roles and archetypes. Launch balance was also significantly improved compared to 2019, with Samira as the only champ who launched significantly off-target. But we know that there are always ways for us to improve and iterate in 2021. 
This year, we’re looking to improve the “good for League overall” side of new champs and VGUs. This includes things like strong and clear counterplay, very unique kits that justify each new addition to our roster, lower complexity on average, and more unique thematics to expand our IP even if less popular. It's worth noting that 2020 was definitely better than 2019 on this axis, but we want to go further in 2021. 
Ranked 
We launched a small bundle of Ranked upgrades in both preseason and start of ranked this year. Overall this has led to a smoother climb where players are facing more balanced teams, fewer smurfs, and consistent wins becoming more important than win streaks. 
We did discover one issue at the start of season where MMR was adjusting too slowly, causing LP gains to be a bit lower than expected overall, and in some cases caused winstreaking players to experience negative LP gains (eg +12 for a win, -16 for loss). That issue was addressed with patch 11.2 last week. We’re going to continue monitoring all aspects of ranked to be sure that the experience is working as intended. We’re also going to be watching this year to see if these improvements have positive long term effects that make playing ranked a better experience over the course of a season. 
Thanks again for playing League with us. Stay safe out there. 
Scruffy"

1/25 TFT Mid-Patch Update

Here's a look at a TFT mid-patch update that went out on January 15th:
"1/25/2021 Balance Changes 
Thanks for joining in on the party and providing ample feedback along the way. Most of these mid-patch balance changes should come as no surprise, cause y’all are the ones rooting for them. We’ll check in again soon, but for now let’s pull the feathers out of our clothes and get back to the party! 
Champions
  • Diana Pale Cascade Orbs: 4/5/7 ⇒ 4/5/6
  • Rakan: fixed a bug where Rakan could start to gain Mana while his shield was still active near the end of its duration.
  • Rakan Mana: 40/80 ⇒ 60/120
  • Rakan Disarming Diversion Shield: 300/550/950 ⇒ 200/400/800
  • Zed Contempt for the Weak Attack Damage Steal: 20/30/40% ⇒ 20/25/30%
  • Aurelion Sol Voice of Lightning Damage: 350/550/1750 ⇒ 325/500/1750
  • Xayah Mana Lock after spell cast duration: 1 second ⇒ 1.5 seconds
  • Yone Seal Fate Armor/Magic Resist Shred: 40/40/40% ⇒ 60/60/80%
Tooltip Fix
  • Katarina’s Tooltip has been bugged for a few patches, oops. The correct damage numbers for her spell, Death Lotus will now be accurate on the tooltip: 600/900/1650"
 

Ask Riot: Lessons from Dev

Here's the first Ask Riot of the year - "The Aatrox VGU, why most skins are part of thematics, and an update on the votes.":
"Welcome to Ask Riot 
After a brief hiatus, we’re happy to say Ask Riot is back in session. So… let’s kick off the year with some questions about champions, VGUs, and skin thematics. 
Also, please send us all your questions! It’s how we know what you care about. And it makes us happy. 
Why are all of the skins you make now in a line (like Battle Queens) instead of unique ones for each champ? 
There are a number of reasons why we've had more releases that are a collection of skins within a single thematic. One is that we're investing more into the world building and visual development of our thematics. Spirit Blossom is a great example of this, where we develop the thematic for some time, invest a lot of effort to build a creative foundation, then want to build more than just a couple skins in order to make sure we explore the thematic sufficiently for its initial release. Doing bigger "drops," or more skins per thematic release, also gives us more opportunities to bring lower playrate champions into major or new thematics—Spirit Blossom Kindred is a great example here. 
This doesn't preclude us from making one-off skins. Sometimes there will be champs that just don't cleanly fit in the thematics we're developing, and we'll be keeping an eye out for single skin opportunities that we think players will really dig. 
Riot Eggo McLego, Product Lead, Skins and Personalization Content
What happened to the VGU you announced that was going to come after Mundo? 
We ran into some unexpected delays and never really got started on the VGU we announced in September’s Champion Roadmap. As such, we decided to make good on our original promise, which was to let you all decide which champion we should update next. 
The poll results are nearly in, and we’re excited to announce the winning champion—who’ll receive the next VGU after Dr. Mundo—next week. The winner of the thematic vote will also be revealed then. 
Reav3, Lead Producer of Champions Team 
What is one experience with creating or reworking a champion that led to a drastic change in how all champions were handled? 
I don't know about a specific champion that led to a drastic change in how we handle ALL champs, but there was a VGU that changed how we handled all VGUs, and that was Aatrox. 
Prior to Aatrox, new champions and VGUs had the same primary goal, which was to drive engagement. In other words, both VGUs and new champions were designed to get lots of players to play them, that way League consistently has fresh new gameplay, whether you're playing with, as, or against the champion. This doesn’t mean every champion has to be super popular—we sometimes create champs who we know will be niche but who we hope will have a dedicated player base. 
New champions and VGUs had very different secondary goals though. For new champions, our secondary goal was (and still is) to expand League’s IP. For VGUs, our secondary goal was to build player trust in our dev team and keep League feeling up to date and modern. 
Because our primary goal for VGUs was getting people to play the champions, we’d sometimes make choices that we felt would make the champs more engaging and exciting to the broader playerbase, even if it sometimes meant we had to make drastic changes to the champion’s play pattern or style. It’s easy to see fault in this approach now, but those were the goals that we thought made sense at the time. In any case, this is how we approached Aatrox’s update. 
As such, we ended up with a champion with a much higher playrate amongst a dedicated playerbase, and if we were judging success solely based on our primary goal, then Aatrox was a success. However, the new engagement came at the cost of alienating a lot of old Aatrox players. It also made many players afraid for their favorite champions to get a VGU, in fear that we’d change them so far from what they love, they wouldn’t love them anymore. 
After Aatrox’s update, we swapped the primary and secondary goals for VGUs. Player trust became (and remains) our primary goal—even if that means the champ ends up being a little less engaging or exciting for the broader playerbase. 
In some ways, when we update a champion, we’re really updating something that’s no longer ours. It’s a character that sometimes millions of players have grown to love globally, and we want to make sure we do good by you all first and foremost. 
This is part of the reason we’ve begun doing VGU polls. It’s also why we release multiple dev blogs throughout development so we can get earlier feedback from more players on the direction we’re headed, and make adjustments based on that feedback. We hope this new approach is something that can be felt in our most recent updates, and we hope that we can continue building trust between you all and the Champions Team. 
Reav3, Lead Producer of Champions Team 
Have a question? Head here, drop your question in the box, and ask away."

Miscellaneous

  • Here's the Post-PBE cycle notes from the QA team for each skin on the PBE this cycle :
Chromas (1 / 2
"Post-PBE cycle note:
- We decided to not make notable changes" 
Withered Rose Talon
"1/22 update: Armblade is being made bigger on Tuesday, we're talking to the splash team about getting it tweaked. Thank you for your feedback!" 
Withered Rose Syndra
"1/22 update: We heard you and we'll be adding a little flair to the unempowered E similar to what Pool Party Syndra has. We'll also see if we can add a smol glow to her dance!"
Crystal Rose Swain
"UPDATE 
Thanks everyone for the feedback! Team had a look and we were able to make the following adjustment: 
Crystal Rose Swain's Nevermore (E) VFX have been adjusted to deviate from Coven Zyra's Grasping Roots (E) VFX."
Crystal Rose Zyra
"UPDATE 
Thanks everyone for the feedback! Team had a look and we were able to make the following adjustments: 
  • Crystal Rose Zyra's Garden of Thorns (P) seed VFX and Rampant Growth (W) seed VFX has been pushed to further differentiate between the (P) and (W) from both the Ally and Enemy POV.
  • The issue that attached Crystal Rose Zyra's brow to her hair fringe, noticeable during Taunt (Ctrl+2), has been fixed.
  • Crystal Rose Zyra's Deadly Spines (Q) plant model, coloring, and animation has been adjusted to address the "phallic" association."
Lunar Beast Aphelios
"EDITED TO ADD POST PBE NOTES 
Aphelios Post-PBE Notes
Bugs & Bugfixes: 
  • Alune's portrait will be present on the HUD!
  • Aphelios tooltips are crazy. There are some grammatical issues. They wont be fixed in time for his release.
Feedback:
  • SFX on the Q & Auto-attack have been softened.
  • Severum auto attack 'squeaking' fixed.
  • We hear that you would like to hear a more satisfying sound on the Chakrams on Crescendum, however our audio peeps don't have the capacity to redesign this.
  • We agree with you that the crit strike lacks some "oompfh", however this isn't a simple asset tweak for our audio team as the crit sound is shared across all of the guns. Due to this our audio folks don't have the bandwidth to experiment with the implications of changing this.
  • After checking Alune's face on her ult we can confirm it is in the same position as on her default. So we wont be making any changes here.
  • Also the horns, we are so sorry but we cant make them glow even though we know they would look super awesome. We really don't want to take away from the visual read of the guns. They are the most important read for Aphelios.
  • We would like to maintain consistency across the Lunar Beast skinline with the scanline effect in his VFX. Due to the lower number of players that would actually see the distortion effect too, we would prefer to keep this as is.
  • I'm still awaiting a final answer on the whether we can move Alune inside the portrait more in the loading screen. I wanted to give you a more definitive answer on this today, but I also didn't want to keep you waiting. The folks are busy working away on other splashes right now, but as soon as I can get an answer on this ill update this thread.
  • I admire your post about adding more color to the Calibrum. The dedication to adding more color's to his kit made me chuckle (and almost cry)! The team agreed this would be information overload, but we commend you for trying!
I hope that we were able to offer a bit more clarity around our thought process and goals for our skins in our response to your feedback. We aim to do this with all of our PBE feedback going forward. 
Thanks, GL and HF! 
Riot Dead Thief"
Lunar Beast Alistar
"Post-PBE cycle note: 
- Added firework particles on Pulverize (Q) and Unbreakable Will (R)"
Lunar Beast Annie
Post-PBE cycle note: 
- Added firework particles on Disintegrate (Q) and Summon: Tibbers (R)
Lunar Beast Beast Darius
"Post-PBE cycle note: 
- Added firework particles on Noxian Guillotine (R)"
Lunar Beast Fiora
Post-PBE cycle note:
- Added firework particles when procing Vitals from Duelist Dance (P) and all 4 on Grand Challenge (R)
Lunar Beast Fiora Prestige Edition
Post-PBE cycle note:
- adjusted Riposte (W) indicator colors to be easier distinguishable between empowered an unempowered states
- Added firework particles when procing Vitals from Duelist Dance (P) and all 4 on Grand Challenge (R)"
Lunar Beast Jarvan IV
Post-PBE cycle note:
- Added firework particles on Martial Cadence (P) proc and Cataclysm (R)"

  • Riot Scruffy tweeted a changelist for patch 11.3:
"Updated 11.3 preview with almost finished changes. 
Credit to the team that does these, they work tirelessly to deliver better and better patches every 2 weeks. These are really the lifeblood of League, constant attention to keep things balanced and fresh."
  • Some of the TFT dev team hit up r/CompetitiveTFT for an AMA - "Set 4.5 AMA with the TFT Devs and Friends!":
"Welcome to the Festival! 
We’re (part of) the team behind the Fates Mid-Set: The Festival of Beasts. We're taking some time out from all the festivities to answer your questions about the set’s design, mechanics, arenas, little legends, and all things TFT. But first off, let me introduce you to the squad who’ll be answering your questions:
  • AliceOfClubs - Technical Game Designer; Not quite a Game Designer, not quite an Engineer, designs and implements traits, spells, and developer tools.
  • Chaemirix - Game Designer; devs are like dolphins, and this one leads the set 4 pod.
  • RiotStatikk - Game Designer; your live balance lead who cosplays Thanos in spirit only.
  • Shynkr0 - Technical Game Designer; on the edge of engineering and design, they improve systems and tools for all dev pods throughout the sea.
  • Riot_Mort - Lead Game Designer; if devs are like dolphins, Mort is the Ocean, keeping tabs on all sets at all times, even when you’re sleeping.
  • firenrain20 - Game Producer; herds cats to ensure new content is delivered and makes sure the team is doing well! Waiting for a boba sprite to come along...
  • RiotGreenTeej - Producer of Producers; Famous Set 1 Challenger player and tea enthusiast.
  • Leelor - Our fearless User Experience (UX) leader making sure you know the chances of hitting a Chosen for each cost at each level. They empower your 'just hit' vibes with a mastery of UX!
This ensemble of our favorite people will begin answering questions at 11:30 AM PST, but you can add your questions to this post right away! 
Links for general information about the Fates II Pass or a Gameplay Overview
Edit: Wow, this has really BLOWN up to the point where our pages are taking forever to load. We're having a blast answering your questions so we'll stick around a bit longer (till 2:30 PM PST). 
Edit: It's 2:32 here and we gotta get back to the Festival. Thanks for all your questions, passion, and excitement! Till next time!"
  • Prime Gaming loot for January 25th is now available, with more coming February 4th and beyond!


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